Cornell School District

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Cornell School District
Cornell Educational Center
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania School Districts with Cornell School District in light green in western Allegheny County.
Pursuing Excellence in Public Education
1099 Maple Street
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, Allegheny, 15108
United States
Established 1972
Superintendent Ms. Donna Belas
Faculty 60 (2005–2006)[1]
Grades K-12
Enrollment 676 in 2009
Kindergarten 54
Grade 1 46
Grade 2 53
Grade 3 43
Grade 4 40
Grade 5 48
Grade 6 39
Grade 7 60
Grade 8 50
Grade 9 47
Grade 10 61
Grade 11 68
Grade 12 45
Other Enrollment Projected to continue to decline to under 600[3]
Color(s) Blue and Gold
Athletics Football, Baseball, Basketball, Softball, Volleyball
Mascot Raiders
Newspaper HillTop
Budget $12 million 2012-13 [4]

Cornell School District is a diminutive, suburban public school district in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The district encompasses approximately 2 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 7,363. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $17,935, while the median family income was $41,497.[5] Per district officials, in school year 2007-08 the district provided basic educational services to 699 pupils through the employment of 65 teachers, 34 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 4 administrators. It serves students in the Pittsburgh suburbs of Coraopolis and Neville Township.

Cornell School District operates 2 schools: Cornell Elementary (K-6) and Cornell High School which serves 7-12th grade. In 2010 the high school and junior high school were combined for administration purposes. Cornell School District Educational Center is located on one campus in Coraopolis with separate wings for elementary and secondary instruction. The climate-controlled building includes a gymnasium, auditorium, and pool. Separate libraries fulfill the different needs of elementary and secondary students. The elementary and secondary cafeterias serve both breakfast and lunch.
The professional staff has an average of 9 years teaching experience, and 40 percent of the teachers have advanced degrees. The district's class sizes average about 20 students and a staff/pupil ratio of 14 to one.

Academic achievement[edit]

The Cornell School District was ranked 427th out of 497 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on four years of student academic performance on the PSSAs in: math, reading, writing and 2 years of science.[6]

  • 2010 - 417th [7]
  • 2009 - 395th
  • 2008 - 402nd in Pennsylvania
  • 2007 - 432nd of 501 school districts

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students in the district was in the 30th percentile among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[8]

Cornell School District was ranked 87th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on four years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and 2 years of science.[9]

  • 2009 - 83rd
  • 2008 - 84th

In its 2010 application for School Improvement Grants, the Pennsylvania Department of Education identified Cornell Senior High School as a candidate for turnaround intervention.[10] The school district applied for funding under the program. Nineteen Pennsylvania school districts and five charters statewide applied for the money. Schools accepting it must agree to adopt federal government-specified "interventions" that would lead to staffing changes and other shifts in how they operate.[11] The School Improvement Grant program began in 2002. In 2010 there is the one-time addition of almost $3 billion in stimulus funding. The district received $3,360,000 to transform the high school.[12] The school was required to notify parents of its intention to implement the changes required by the grant.[13] Parents notice [1]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Cornell School District's rate was 97% for 2010.[14]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 100% [15]
  • 2009 - 100% [16]
  • 2008 - 97%
  • 2007 - 97% [17]

Cornell High School[edit]

The high school achieved AYP status in 2010.[18] The school was in Warning level AYP status due to poor student academic achievement in 2009.[19]

In 2010, the high school ranked 106th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools by the Pittsburgh Business Times based on the academic achievement of its students on four years of PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and two years of science.[20] In 2009, the high school ranked 106th among local high schools.

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2010 - 67% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level. (61 pupils enrolled) [21]
  • 2009 - 46%, State - 65% [22]
  • 2008 - 55%, State - 65% [23]
  • 2007 - 52%, State - 65%
11th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 54% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[24]
  • 2009 - 49%, State - 56%[25]
  • 2008 - 33%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 43%, State - 53%[26]
11th Grade Science:
  • 2010 - 29% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 39% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2009 - 33%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 18%, State - 39% [28]

Cornell Junior High School[edit]

The eighth grade ranked 109th out of 141 western Pennsylvania eighth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, writing and two years of science PSSAs.[29]

8th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 80% on grade level. State - 81% of 8th graders were on grade level. (51 pupils enrolled)
  • 2009 - 78%, State - 80.9% [31]
  • 2008 - 75%, State - 78%
  • 2007 - 74%, State - 75%
8th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 70% on grade level. State - 75% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 58%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 69%, State - 67%
8th Grade Science:
  • 2010 - 37% on grade level. State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 39%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 39%, State - 50%

Seventh Grade[edit]

The seventh grade ranked 101st out of 153 western Pennsylvania seventh grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading and writing. PSSAs.[32]

7th Grade Reading:
2010 - 79% on grade level. State - 73% of 7th graders were on grade level. (50 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 62%, State - 71%
2008 - 58%, State - 70%

7th Grade Math:
2010 - 66% on grade level. State - 77% of 7th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 75%, State - 75%
2008 - 58%, State - 70%

Cornell Elementary School[edit]

The sixth grade ranked 57th out of 207 western Pennsylvania sixth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[33]

6th Grade Reading:
2010 - 74% on grade level. State - 68% of 6th graders were on grade level. (47 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 87%, State - 67% [34]
2008 - 74%, State - 67%

6th Grade Math:
2010 - 89% on grade level. State - 78% of 6th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 98%, State - 75%
2008 - 86%, State - 72%

Fifth Grade[edit]

The fifth grade ranked 201st out of 287 western Pennsylvania fifth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[35]

5th Grade Reading:
2010 - 63% on grade level. State - 64% of 5th graders were on grade level. (47 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 55%, State - 64%
2008 - 70%, State - 61%

5th Grade Math:
2010 - 70% on grade level. State - 74% of 5th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 61%, State - 73%
2008 - 81%, State - 73%

Fourth Grade[edit]

The fourth grade ranked 202nd out of 313 western Pennsylvania fourth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, writing and two years of science PSSAs.[36]

4th Grade Reading:
2010 - 78% on grade level. State - 72% of 4th graders were on grade level. (42 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 68%, State - 72%
2008 - 57%, State - 70%

4th Grade Math:
2010 - 92% on grade level. State - 84% of 4th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 88%, State - 81%
2008 - 80%, State - 79%

4th Grade Science:
2010 - 66% on grade level. State - 81% of 4th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 80%, State - 83%
2008 - 79%, State - 81%

Third Grade[edit]

The third grade ranked 251st out of 327 western Pennsylvania third grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2010 for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading and writing. PSSAs.[37]

3rd Grade Reading:
2010 - 83% on grade level. State - 75% of 3rd graders were on grade level. (42 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 71%, State - 77%
2008 - 83%, State - 77%

3rd Grade Math:
2010 - 88% on grade level. State - 84% of 3rd graders were on grade level.
2009 - 81%, State - 81%
2008 - 91%, State - 80%


The Cornell School District offers a comprehensive program providing college preparatory, business, general, and vocational- technical courses. The largest percentage of students is enrolled in the college preparatory program.

Special curriculum offerings include the following: Community College of Allegheny County Dual Enrollment, University of Pittsburgh College in the High School Program, and Robert Morris University College in the High School Program.
Honors: These are rigorous courses that demand a high level of analytical reading ability and challenge students at a very high level of cognitive thinking. Students may also elect to take AP courses in English and Social Studies and dual enrollment courses in math and science.
In the elementary school the district successfully implemented a Quality Change Program with a focus on math, reading, and behavior during the 2002–2003 school year. This program is now in Phase VII of implementation. During the 2004-05 school year, an inclusion model was implemented in grades 4–6 utilizing a co-teaching model. This program has been modified to suit the needs of the student population. The technology curriculum has also been enhanced in grades K–6.
Vocational-Technical Training is provided to the senior high students in Grades 10-12 at Parkway West Career and Technical School.
The Cornell Alternative Program services students who have not been successful in the regular classroom setting or who have not been successful following the Student Code of Conduct. It provides an educational setting for remediation and rehabilitation. It is the intent of this program to provide students with appropriate academic and social skills for their successful return to the regular high school educational setting. Students who are assigned to this program must participate in educational goal setting that will be established through a Student Educational Plan.
Academic services will be provided five days a week in the areas of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Physical Education and Health. Students also have the option to participate in a Work-Study Program or Parkway West Career and Technical Center classes.

Special education[edit]

The Cornell School District offers a full continuum of special education programs and services to all eligible for such services. Special Education programs and services are available for all eligible students between the ages of three (3) and twenty-one (21). The following types of services are offered by the Cornell School District either through the district, placements in the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, or in Approved Private Schools: Developmental Delays (Preschool Only), Deaf or Hearing Impaired Support, Multiple Disabled Support, Autistic Support, Physical Support, Speech and Language Support, Life Skills, Blind or Visually Impaired Support, Neurologically Impaired Support, Learning Support, Emotional Support, Other Health Impaired Support. Students in grades K–12 receive services via an inclusionary model.
Gifted education at the elementary program is provided via a pullout program and enrichment in the structured groups. At the secondary level, the students’ GIEP goals are achieved through accelerated courses, AP courses, dual enrollment programs, and enrichment activities. All district GIEP students have the opportunity to participate in AIU and Western Pennsylvania academic competitions.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The graduation requirements for the Cornell School District are as follows: Successful completion of 24 credits. Only those courses which meet five periods per week for thirty-six weeks are considered a credit. Partial credit is given to courses which meet less than five (5) periods per week. Physical Education and Wellness are given 2.5 credits for successful completion of grades 9–12 required course work. Included in the 24 credits are the following requirements: four years of English, four years of Social Studies, three years of Mathematics or successfully completed through Geometry, three years of Science, one (1) of which must be Biology, four years of Physical Education and Wellness, three years of Computer Technology, and five Elective Credits.[38]

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[39]

According to Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the graduating class in 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[40]

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 57% of Cornell School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[41] Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years.[42] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[43] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[44] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[45]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $3,922 for the program.[46]

Bullying policy[edit]

In 2009 the administrative reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district.[47][48]

The Cornell School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying.[49] The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[50] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[51]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[52]

Wellness policy[edit]

The Cornell School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[53] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[54]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.


For the 2007-08 school year, the district employed 60 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $42,365 for 180 days worked.[55] In 2008–2009 the district employed over 60 teachers with a salary range of $38,680 to $84,671.[56] The contracts limits the elementary school work day to 7 hours, which includes a 30-minute duty-free lunch. The high school work day is seven hours 15 minutes. Teachers are provided with a preparation period each day. The professional staff also receives a benefits package that includes health insurance, life insurance, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 4 paid personal days, 5 paid bereavement leave days, reimbursement for professional development courses 100% for a grade of A or B and 80% for a C grade. The District also provides the union with 10 paid leave days for union reps to conduct union business. Teachers with 10 years of service may go on sabbatical leave for up to one year and receive 50% of their salary while on leave.[57] All Pennsylvania public school teachers receive a defined benefit pension. According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[58][59]

Cornell School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $1,608.79. The district ranked 3rd out of 500 school districts for per-pupil administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398.[60] Donna Belas was named superintendent by the school board in August 2009.[61] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, the average salary for a superintendent for the 2007-08 school year was $122,165.[62] Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.

In 2008 Cornell reported spending $16,028 per pupil.[63] This ranked 39th among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts.

In October 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. It found that the District had a General Fund Deficit of $456,901 as of June 30, 2008. Other findings were reported to the school board and administration.[64]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax - 0.5%, a property tax, a local services tax $5, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's wealth.[65]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district will receive $1,599,9510 in state Basic Education Funding.[66] Additionally, the district will receive $33,697 in Accountability Block Grant funding.

For the 2010-11 budget year the Cornell School District received a 7.26% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $1,743,587. In Allegheny County, the highest increase went to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase in state funding. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was given to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state funding.[67]

In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $1,625,567. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2008-10. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.17% increase. The majority of Allegheny County districts received a 2% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the Cornell School District in 2008-09 was $1,593,693.17 [68] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[69]

Accountability block grant[edit]

The state provides supplemental funding in the form of accountability block grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses. Cornell School District uses its $91,448 to fund Before and After school tutoring. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding.[70] The 2008-09 school year was the fifth year the district offered before and after school tutoring to its pupils. Schools districts must apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[71] In 2009-10 the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $16 million went to providing increased instructional time through tutoring.[72]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the school district received $47,427.[73]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006–2009. Cornell School District received $98,233 in 2006-07 and $250,000 in 2007-08. The district did not apply for funding for 2008-09 fiscal year.[74]

Sex education grant[edit]

The district won a $5000 grant to provide a class regarding teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for grades seven through nine in 2010.[75] The grant was from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an additional $500,470 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[76] This funding is for the 2009–2010 to 2010–2011 school years.[77]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Cornell School District officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant. The district is identified as a turnaround district due to the chronically low academic achievement of its students. When approved for the grant, the district will receive hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Turnaround status also brings an extra $700 per student, in supplemental funding above the basic grant amount.[78] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[79] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[80] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[81]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[82] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Cornell School Board set property tax rates in 2011-12 at 25.9550 mills.[83] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Real Estate taxes are the main source of revenue for the district. It is collected by local tax collectors. On the local level, Pennsylvania district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[84]

  • 2010 - 24.1100 mills.[85]
  • 2009 - 22.9300 mills.[86]
  • 2008 - 22.9300 mills.[87]
  • 2007 - 21.7400 mills.

In 2011, Cornell School District participated in the development of local comprehensive plan. The report identified several problems, including that 50% of local properties were vacant industrial properties and the local economy has been in decline for years. It also reported a local resident population decline: from 1970 to 2000, the population dropped 40 percent, from 23,000 to 14,000. Neville has 1,200 residents, and the other towns each have 6,500 to 6,600 residents. One proposal in the report called for the district to forgive back taxes on vacant properties in order to encourage people to purchase them[88]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010–2011 school year is 2.9 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[89]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Cornell School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.[90]

  • 2006-07 - 4.7%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.1%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 5.5%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.1%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 3.7%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.8%, Base 1.4%

For the 2010-11 school year budget, the Cornell School Board applied for multiple exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. The approved exceptions included: Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue, Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources and Pension Obligations.[91] In the Spring of 2010, 135 Pennsylvania school boards asked to exceed their adjusted index. Approval was granted to 133 of them and 128 sought an exception for pension costs increases.[92]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Cornell School District was $160 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1,891 property owners applied for the tax relief. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill.[93] The highest property tax relief in Allegheny County was given to McKeesport Area School District at $316 per household. In Pennsylvania, the highest property tax relief was given to approved homes in Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[94]

  • 2009 - $163 for 1,562 approved homesteads
  • 2008 - $166 for 1,537 approved homesteads [95]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, so people who make substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[96]

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[97]


The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is set by school board policy [98] and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[99]


The interscholastic athletic program provides high-level competition in both team and individual sports. Interscholastic sports are those in which students compete against teams or individuals from other school districts. Athletic activities are offered at the junior high school, 9th grade, junior varsity, and varsity levels. Some sports do not offer competition in all four levels.

  • Boys: Baseball, Basketball, Cross-Country, Football, Golf, Swimming, Track, and Soccer.
  • Girls: Basketball, Cross-Country, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Track, and Volleyball.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (P.I.A.A.) governs high school interscholastic sports programs in Pennsylvania. As a member the district, follows the policies and regulations formulated by the Association. Additional information regarding the athletic program is available from the Athletic Director.

Activities and clubs[edit]

Students are offered a number of extracurricular experiences. Students can participate in the band beginning in seventh grade. Other activities include a student newspaper, yearbook, Key Club, National Honor Society, junior high and high school student councils, and class plays.

21st-century community learning center[edit]

Cornell School District has been designated as a CCLC before and after school program provider. It received state funding through a grant. CCLCs provide academic, artistic and cultural enhancement activities to students and their families when school is not in session. The 2010 grant is $526,800.[100]

Cornell School District highlights[edit]

  • Cornell School District made AYP for five consecutive years.
  • The Cornell School District P.R.I.D.E. Program (Providing Daily Enrichment through Daily Enrichment) is sponsored by the Pennsylvania 21st Century Community Learning Center to serve students in grades 2–9. The goal is to increase student academic achievement through enhanced academic activities, tutoring, and homework support. Additional goals include providing opportunities for social, cultural and recreational activities that promote character development, resiliency and positive attitudes towards education.
  • Cornell School District offers district-wide after-school tutorial sessions and a summer tutorial program.
  • Nearly 87% of graduating seniors go on to higher education each year.
  • Cornell School District and Community College of Allegheny County, Robert Morris University, and the University of Pittsburgh offer dual-enrollment programs for senior high students to acquire college credits.
  • An elementary school Quality Change Program was successfully implemented during the 2002–2003 school year.
  • Gifted and Talented Education programs are offered district wide. Students also participate in the AIU sponsored Apprenticeship Program, History Bowl, Calcu-Solve, Science Bowl, Future Problem Solving, and Invention Convention.
  • Teachers have been recognized for outstanding accomplishments for their academic endeavors. Some of the organizations include: Teachers of Excellence, VFW Teacher Leadership Awards, University of Pittsburgh All-Star Educators, Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year, Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year, and Bayer’s Asset Science Outstanding Educator.
  • The district has five different state-of-the-art computer laboratories for the students to utilize. The library has a Media Center with 30 computers.
  • The district has a partnership with Robert Morris University and Duquesne University for student teachers, tutors, and P.R.I.D.E. employees.
  • The district hosts an annual career fair as a part of a Career Awareness Initiative.
  • There is a district-wide Student of the Month Program and Character Education Program.
  • Cornell High School is a Pennsylvania Department of Education Classrooms for the Future grant recipient. Students in grades 9–12 have access to laptops in Social Studies, English, Math, and Science.


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